What is anycast ?
Actually, it’s not a protocol, it is not a variant of multicast or broadcast. Anycast is just the name given to a unicast IPv4 or IPv6 address that’s announced from several routers inside an AS or WAN.
How does it work ?
Anycast lets the internal routing protocols like OSPF, EIGRP or iBGP handle these different announcements and select the fastest path via their respective selection algorithms, i.e. Dijkstra for OSPF.
What does it offer ?
Anycast provides a “geographically” distributed network that enables fast content delivery. Web-services are, as we know, Domain Name System aware and also dependent. Web is global and without frontiers, contents should be accessible and usable from anywhere, but physics are still a reality on planet Earth. Of course, we discovered traffic black holes some years ago but are still facing latency issues when it’s about distributing contents from the one side of the world to the other. Anycast provides, combined with the Domain Name System, a very fast responsiveness of all web-based applications and contents we might want to deliver. Anycast is often used in Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) like Cloudflare or Akamai.